Jon Favreau‘s hotly-anticipated reworking of “The Lion King” may be hitting theaters soon, but that won’t stop Disney from promoting its next remake. 1998’s “Mulan” proved a home run for Disney, with high-profile critics such as Roger Ebert and James Berardinelli lauding the depth of its characters and themes. Those characters and ideas continue to hold up today, too. But can Disney replicate what the animated original did so effortlessly? Can it handle issues dealing with war in a way that’s both reverent and unfamiliar? Decide for yourself after you check out the new trailer for the film (embedded below!).
Helmed by “Whale Rider” director Niki Caro and written by Elizabeth Martin and Lauren Hynek, “Mulan” stars Chinese actress and singer Liu Yifei as the eponymous heroine and will mesh elements of the literary ballad with those seen in Disney’s 1998 classic. Jet Li, Donnie Yen, and YouTube star Jimmy Wong also star in supporting roles. Chris Bender and JC Spink produced the film.
Disney sought out director Ang Lee with the hope that he would direct, but he declined. You can thank “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” for that decision. In February 2017, after approaching other filmmakers, Disney chose Caro as the film’s director. The film was initially slated for release on November 2018 before “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” replaced it.
The centuries-old ballad from which the 1998 film drew inspiration is shockingly short–only a few hundred lines, at most. Thought to have been written sometime between the 4th and 6th centuries, “Mulan shi” has many purported origins, most of them lacking enough integrity to be considered even remotely believable. Regardless, many Chinese towns and villages pride themselves on being “the birthplace of Mulan,” apparently oblivious to their neighbors’ attempts at becoming tourism hotspots.
Here’s the official synopsis:
When the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders, Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honored warrior, steps in to take the place of her ailing father. Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner-strength and embrace her true potential. It is an epic journey that will transform her into an honored warrior and earn her the respect of a grateful nation…and a proud father. “Mulan” features a celebrated international cast that includes: Yifei Liu as Mulan; Donnie Yen as Commander Tung; Jason Scott Lee as Böri Khan; Yoson An as Cheng Honghui; with Gong Li as Xianniang and Jet Li as the Emperor. The film is directed by Niki Caro from a screenplay by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver and Elizabeth Martin & Lauren Hynek based on the narrative poem “The Ballad of Mulan.”
A healthy mix of both the ballad and its adaptation, the live-action “Mulan” will be released on March 27, 2020.